The VIP Suite
Daniel swiveled so he could slide Jack across to one hip and leave one hand free to use the keycard to open the door.
Inside, he crossed straight to the bed and awkwardly managed to pull the covers back, one-handed. Then he bent and placed the sleeping boy down. He began to pull the covers up but froze as Jack murmured and began to stir. To his immense relief, Jack simply turned more into the pillow and settled again as Daniel covered him snugly with the blankets.
Daniel blew out a breath then set about making himself coffee while Jack slept. He’d order some dinner for them both when Jack woke up. Under normal circumstances, he’d order for him, but Daniel wasn’t exactly sure what seven year olds liked to eat, or even if Jack’s tastes would have changed. Better to be safe than sorry. He relaxed into the armchair near the bed and sipped gratefully at his coffee. He had a feeling it was going to be a long night.
He’d managed to make it through the newspaper that he borrowed off one of the SF’s on duty in the hallway before Jack woke. Glancing at his watch as Jack began to move around, he saw he’d slept for just over an hour. Daniel thought that was okay. An hour’s nap sounded about right for a kid Jack’s age, although thinking back to his own rather chaotic childhood, Daniel was pretty sure he’d stopped taking naps before he went to school. But Jack had been exhausted and probably in some degree of shock and rest was always the best thing for that, or so Janet was always telling him.
He put the paper down and went to sit on the bed, watching as Jack’s eyes opened and the boy looked around, his face wearing an expression of confusion.
“Hey, Jack,” he said. “Have a good sleep?”
Jack nodded. “Guess so. I was hoping I’d wake up and find it really *was* just a dream.”
“I can understand that,” Daniel replied sympathetically. “Sorry. Hey, you hungry? I was just thinking about ordering some dinner.”
Jack sat up and pushed the covers off. “I guess. I really need to pee first though.”
“Oh right. Sure. Um, the bathroom’s through there. But you know that, of course.” Daniel could feel his face heating and wondered why. He and Jack had used bathrooms together before… “Um, can you manage, do you think?”
“I’ve been peeing for years, Daniel. I’m sure I can work it out.”
Daniel nodded and stood up. “Sure. Of course you can. So… I’ll just wait here till you’re done, shall I?”
Jack shrugged as he headed for the bathroom. “Whatever.”
Daniel couldn’t help the small smile that tugged at his lips as he heard a muffled curse from inside the bathroom. He stood up and walked across to the phone as Jack wandered out, eyeing him suspiciously.
“What are you smiling at?” the boy asked, his brows pulled down in a very familiar expression.
Daniel shrugged as he picked up the phone. “Nothing.”
“There’s nothing remotely funny about this, Daniel,” Jack said angrily.
“Nope, you’re right. There isn’t.” Daniel finally managed to school his face into seriousness.
“You think it’s funny going to take a leak and seeing that your feet and hands aren’t the only part of you that’s shrunk?”
“No. You’re right. It’s not the slightest bit funny. I’m sorry. I just-“ Daniel stopped, seeing the blush staining Jack’s cheeks. ‘Poor kid. He’s right. It isn’t funny.’ “Want some dinner? What do you want?” he asked.
“Tacos?” Jack asked hopefully.
“I’ll ask if they’re on the menu tonight. You sure that’s what you want?”
Jack nodded as he picked up the newspaper and settled himself with it on the bed. “Oh, and tell them to send some hot sauce too. The good stuff.”
“You really think that’s a good idea?” Daniel stopped at the look in Jack’s eyes. “Hot sauce it is,” he said as he dialed the commissary.
“Don’t drink the water too fast,” Daniel warned, watching as Jack slurped noisily at the glass.
“Burns,” Jack whimpered, taking another huge gulp.
“You know, I read somewhere that drinking water just spreads the burn from spicy food and that you’re better off eating some bread.”
Jack yanked the slice of bread from Daniel’s outstretched hand like a starving man and tore off a chunk, chewing frantically. “Sucks,” he muttered morosely around a mouthful.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Daniel found himself saying as if on autopilot. He waited for the expected explosion from his dining partner but none came.
Instead Jack dropped the bread and crammed a hand over his mouth. “Gonna throw-“
Daniel spared a moment to glance towards the heavens then grabbed his downsized friend around the waist and picked him up. He carried him to the bathroom and stood behind him as Jack bent and spewed his longed-for tacos with ‘the good stuff hot sauce’ into the toilet.
When it looked like it was over, he grabbed a washcloth and wet it then knelt next to Jack and wiped his sweaty face. He twisted and grabbed a glass from the sink and filled it with water then handed it to the boy. “Slowly,” he warned.
Jack nodded wearily, his eyes red-rimmed from the violence of his nausea and sipped the liquid carefully.
“Do you want to go to the infirmary?” Daniel asked, not surprised when Jack shook his head firmly.
“I feel a bit better now,” Jack whispered, putting the glass in Daniel’s hand.
“Good. That’s good, Jack.”
Following some inner impulse, Daniel stood then bent down and pulled the boy up into his arms again.
“Why don’t we go lay down on the bed for a while?” He faked a yawn that was only part-fake. “I’m kinda wasted, myself.”
Jack nodded against his neck. “Okay. But I’m not going to go to sleep yet. It’s too early.”
Daniel bolted upright as a scream rent the air. It was accompanied by a loud thump coming from the floor on the other side of the bed and then the sound of shuffling across the floor towards the bathroom.
Crap! He’d fallen asleep just after Jack had, despite his best intentions not to.
The boy’s protestations of not being tired had dwindled into sleepy murmurings and then silence once Daniel had got them both settled on the bed after Jack’s virulent bout with the porcelain god. Daniel had lain awake, stroking Jack’s back comfortingly and listening to the rhythmic sound of his breathing and then…
He fumbled over to the side of the bed and stood up as the scream died away to be replaced by a torrent of “nonono.”
He looked around the room and finally spotted Jack crouched beneath the table next to the bathroom door. The boy had shoved himself up into the corner as far as he could go, his head resting on his knees, his fingers wrapped, white-tipped around his legs.
Daniel looked up as an SF opened the door and poked his head in.
“Is everything okay, Doctor? I heard screams,” the man asked.
“Does it look as if everything’s okay?” he asked as he knelt at the edge of the table and bent double in order to get a better look at Jack. “Sorry. Just get hold of Doctor Fraiser for me, will you? Tell her to get down here ASAP.”
Daniel heard the man pick up the phone and dial and then he shut out the voice behind him and concentrated on listening to Jack.
The words were muffled by Jack’s knees but Daniel could hear the word blood interspersed between the litany of no’s that came whispering from between Jack’s lips.
“Jack? It’s Daniel. Come on out. It’s okay. You just had a bad dream.”
To his surprise, Jack lifted his head and looked at him, tears creeping down his white face. He bit down hard on his trembling lips, causing a drop of blood to appear.
“It wasn’t a dream, Daniel,” he said, his voice shaking. “I saw Charlie. There was so much blood.” He held his hands out in front of him, palms up. “Charlie was dead,” he murmured. “I saw him.”
Daniel held out his arms. “Come out, Jack. Please. It happened a long time ago.”
“He was only as big as me,” Jack said and Daniel cringed inwardly at the haunted look in the young eyes.
“I know,” he said.
He heard a shuffling of feet and the murmur of voices behind him. “Give me a minute,” he said as he saw Jack cringe back against the wall, his head going down to be buried in his arms again. “Jack? Please come out so we can help you.” He held out his hand again and breathed a sigh of heartfelt relief as Jack looked up and gripped it and allowed himself to be pulled into Daniel’s arms.
Janet knelt next to them and surreptitiously showed Daniel the syringe in her hand. “I’d normally say just let him go back to sleep but I think he’s so stressed by all of this the nightmares will just continue,” she murmured.
Daniel nodded his understanding. “Jack? Janet’s here and she’s got some medicine that will help you sleep and not have any more bad dreams. Will you let her give it to you?” Daniel asked softly.
Jack nodded stiffly against his chest.
“I’m sorry. It’ll be a needle stick,” Janet said apologetically. “I don’t have any kid’s sedatives in liquid form in the pharmacy-“
“It’s okay, Doc,” Jack whispered. “I don’t mind. I just want the dreams to go away.”
“Okay. Just a little pinch now,” Janet said as she stabbed the needle into the small arm Jack held out to her.
Daniel tightened his arms around the thin body as Jack flinched at the sting.
“I really think he should stay in the infirmary, at least for tonight,” Janet said. She stroked a gentle hand over Jack’s hair.
Jack tipped his head back and looked into Daniel’s face. “Will you stay with me there?” he asked around a face-stretching yawn.
Daniel nodded. “Of course I will.”
End part three